I've written and dumped a few blog posts since It happened. Oddly, I started with Reasons for Hope, then hope gave way to lament, so I parked hope and wrote First, Lament, but by the next day the fever had subsided and I felt empty, so I wrote nothing. Nothing spawned new layers of understanding, and then more confusion, and then a sense of community, because actually we are all fucking confused, and maybe that's a good place to start.
Psychology + Zen = Philosophy and methods to relieve suffering and reveal happiness.
Psychology: We project onto others what we reject in ourselves. Some call it a Shadow. Healing comes from making the unconscious conscious, taking responsibility for our projections, integrating what is split off as our own thing.
Zen: There is no separate self. When we can be at one with every aspect, then we belong everywhere and we reject no one.
We heal the world by becoming intimate with our whole selves.
A vagina has not yet planted itself on the seat behind the desk at the oval office. The oval office!
A vagina with a skilled woman attached to it is running for that seat against a brute. In response to decades of sexist attacks, overt and subtle, this woman has not crawled into a hole, has not given up, has not murdered anyone, has NOT made huge mistakes, has not given up her core principles. She has constructed a persona that this nation can barely tolerate--somehow delivering a medley of intelligence, ambition, kindness, steadiness, and enthusiasm. And in response, people hate her. Young liberal people preferred an older white gentleman offering slogans, and deplorables prefer the Deplorable.
and Who is the Other?
I don't mean to be elliptical. On the other hand, maybe "egg shaped" is exactly what I'm going for. This year I'm co-facilitating a class exploring how we project onto others what we can't welcome in ourselves. Our categories are Disability, Race, and Gender. We started the examination of gender with the question:
Am I a woman? Why or Why not?
Here is my answer
I'm at Far Rockaway because it's the people's beach, not like those fancy beaches you have to take a special train to get to. This beach has more kids, more festivities, more lifeguards, more noise, more of it all. It's been a glorious day, playing in the water, watching the joyful families, letting the deep drone of the waves permeate my brain. Because I trust everyone completely, especially people of color, I often leave my bag on the sand as I take dips into the healing ocean.
As I'm getting ready to go home, I reach into my bag for something or other and suddenly discover that the pocket where I keep my wallet is completely empty! Panic! I shuffle around some more, maybe I was mistaken? NO, it's really empty!
I've done it the other way. You know, the vacation where you lie on the beach day after day drinking things with cute toppings and then return to the city accompanied by the deep dread that is only relieved by the agony of actual work beginning.
But now I've turned that whole thing around. I spend a week practicing Zen meditation and ritual with my community--sweating, greeting demons, and working hard, and then return to what now seems like an incredibly luxurious life.
Does it spark joy? If not, let it go.
It's easy to mock this instruction from the adorable and slightly insane master of tidiness, Marie Kondo, but I contend that it is an invitation to a radical revolution. Master Kondo advises us not to engage with a thing in the usual way. Don't read the book or try on the clothing; hold it to your heart and notice what you feel.
"Pay close attention to how your body responds when you do this. When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising. When you hold something that doesn't bring you joy, however, you will notice that your body feels heavier."
Attention to rising cells is revolutionary; it changes everything.
You may have noticed that I've been gone a while. I've been busy doing nothing. What happened is that I had a pretty good idea and I started to write, but then it went sideways and I had a hundred more ideas, and they led to a hundred more, so I started jotting everything down, and it was all connected, so I couldn't finish it, or, rather, them. I suffered.
So I decided to step back and remember the main point.
The parade of slayings and obscene statistics have finally yanked our attention to the crime of racism in America. Eyes open, horrified and heartbroken, we march and protest. "Black Lives Matter!" chant Whites and Blacks together, coming together to rise up and defeat the oppressor, or at least get him to put a camera on.
Several months ago, during a formal conversation on healing racism, a zen teacher--Kodo Sensei, the first Black woman to receive dharma transmission, asked a question that sounded to me like "What's in it for White People?" The question spun itself around in my guts like a sharply angled koan.
For one thing, White people want
It started out well enough. The pain specialist in the spine department--let's call him Dim--was friendly and respectful, and did a quick and gentle exam of my neck. Then he brought me into his office, offered a seat while he communicated with his computer as he complained that electronic medical records were ruining his practice. I sympathized; he continued on about how this keeps him up at night, then asked me many questions that had nothing to do with my neck, presumably required by the machine he was facing.
"Well, she is more contemporary," the young lady clarified when I looked mystified. We were at a networking event for filmmakers and actors, and I had boldly raised my objection to the disappearance of older women. She responded by kindly offering hope that things were changing, and presented Julianne Moore as an example of an aging star. Thinking hard, she filled out her list of two by including an actress in her 30s.